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Updated: Dec 13, 2023

Looking for a natural remedy to improve your sleep? Discover how acupuncture for sleeping problems may help you with insomnia, sleep apnea and anxiety.



Insomnia is a sleep disorder in which a person may have trouble falling and/or staying asleep, waking up too early, followed by fatigue and other symptoms during the day. Such symptoms vary from lethargy, irritability, difficult concentrating, and in the most severe and chronic cases, it could contribute to depression and other debilitating syndromes.

It is extremely common as it is estimated that 1 in 3 people suffers some sort of insomnia, which affects their ability to function during the day.

Insomnia can be short-term (acute), lasting from 1 night to a few weeks, while chronic insomnia is considered so when a person experiences sleeping problems at least 3 nights a week for 3 months or more.

Some of the most common causes of insomnia include:

  • Stress and anxiety

  • medical conditions, such as sleep apnea

  • Shift work & irregular sleep schedules


While nowadays it’s considered an “alternative” treatment, acupuncture is a 3,000-year-old practice in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Acupuncture is a holistic approach, so it’s about treating the whole body, not just insomnia. Sleeping problems are likely to be a symptom of the body being out of balance. Traditional Chinese medicine believes that the waking-sleeping pattern is an extension of the yin/yang cycle, thus different types of sleeping disturbances are linked to particular disruptions in this cycle.

Through an in depth consultation, an acupuncturist identifies what is the Chinese pattern of imbalance and act upon choosing different insomnia acupuncture points to needle in order to get your body functioning again at its best. By diagnosing the root cause of a client’s problem, practitioners may determine that sleep problems are related to stress. They’ll then select acupuncture points that correspond to that diagnosis and try to restore better sleep. As a pleasant side effect, you may also experience better digestion, more energy throughout the day, and improved cognition.

There are 4 main Chinese patterns of sleep imbalance, which are:

1) Difficulty falling asleep, but sleeping through the night 2) Falling asleep easily, but waking through the night and have difficulties to fall asleep again 3) Waking up very early with a buzzing mind, which makes it impossible to go back to sleep. 4) Restless sleep, vivid dreams, nightmares, anxiety at night



According to the science, from a biological standpoint, acupuncture is thought to be a neuro modulator. It affects the nervous system, calming it down and regulating stress hormones, which are both very important factors to treat sleeping problems.

Recent studies have shown how different areas of the brain light up on a functional MRI, making visible the influence of acupuncture on the brain which has appeared to be fairly widespread. Acupuncture for sleeping problems can tone down the brain’s perception of sensory signals, including pain with no side-effects unlike most of sleeping tablets.

Another double-blind study in 2013 showed that acupuncture was very effective when compared with the pretreatment baseline. People experienced better sleep quality, more sleep time and better daytime functioning. These positive effects were well maintained even when the intervention ended, unlike those who got sleeping medications (in this case the sedative medication estazolam) instead of acupuncture.

In particular, it seems that acupuncture for sleeping problems was most beneficial to those suffering from:

  • sleep disturbances

  • sleep apnea

  • pain

  • anxiety

  • depression

  • restless legs syndrome

Thanks to being a drug free treatment, Acupuncture for sleeping problems is gaining a lot of popularity. They would only be meant as a short-term solution because they cause lethargy and often create addiction. Unfortunately most people take prescribed medications for insomnia such as benzodiazepines long term as their insomnia is often chronic and tend to misuse, abuse, and get addicted to these sleeping tablets.

From our clinical experience most of our clients say that they feel calmer and can sleep better for several days after the session. So why not try it?


Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can affect your energy levels as it is a condition where you stop breathing while you’re sleeping. This oxygen deprivation throughout the night can create a sense of lethargy and feeling of tiredness during daytime activities, even tough you don’t have difficulty falling or staying asleep.

Research found very similar conclusions. A 2020 review of nine studies and another 2016 review of six studies found that acupuncture for sleep apnea can significantly improve its symptoms, ratings of sleepiness, and oxygen saturation levels, especially for those people with moderate to severe cases.


Insomnia is very common among people suffering from anxiety and depression.

Research is limited about this subject, even tough there are few studies proving the efficacy of acupuncture to help with feeling of anxiety.

A study conducted in 2020 found that most patients suffering from depression and insomnia found some relief thanks to receiving 3 weekly sessions of electroacupuncture, a type of acupuncture that uses electric currents. They said that acupuncture improved their sleep quality, total sleep time and the feeling of depression.


Specialised Acupuncture for anxiety seems to affect neurotransmitter levels such as like serotonin, dopamine, oxytocin, and anandamide, hence altering the brain’s mood chemistry to help to combat negative affective states (Lee 2009; Samuels 2008; Zhou 2008; Yuan 2007)


We usually recommend our patients to try at least 3 to 6 acupuncture sessions. Sometimes it may take several sessions to reap the benefits of acupuncture, while some people do begin to experience more restful nights after the first session. We often recommend to combine this type of acupuncture with paired with cognitive behavioral therapy, as it is a type of talking therapy that can aim to treat underlying causes of insomnia.

Our acupuncturists will also advise you on any lifestyle changes that may help you to get better faster and restore restful night sleep faster.

If you wish, we will guide you and give you ideas how to truly prepare yourself for a good night’s sleep, recommending activities which create a sense of calm and peace, in whichever way is appropriate for you.

Some people find that practising mindfulness, being aware of the body and breath, physically relaxing the body, can all contribute to let go and finally drift off.

If you would like to know more, please read our article about “How to start a mindfulness meditation practice in 5 easy steps




Book today your first appointment, and make insomnia a distant memory as you embrace a new life of tranquility and balance.

We look forward to hearing your thoughts about this article! Please share your experience if you had acupuncture for sleeping problems with us and whether you found that it truly helped you to regain vitality and improve your sleeping patterns.


1 Comment

aijaz ali khushik
Dec 19, 2023

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine practice that involves inserting thin needles into specific points on the body. While it is commonly used for various health concerns, including pain management, there is limited scientific evidence to support its effectiveness in treating sleep problems. However, some individuals may find acupuncture helpful in promoting relaxation and reducing stress, which can indirectly improve sleep quality.

Here are some ways acupuncture may potentially benefit sleep:

1. Stress Reduction: Acupuncture may help reduce stress and anxiety, which are common contributors to sleep disturbances. By targeting specific acupuncture points, the treatment may stimulate the release of endorphins and promote a sense of relaxation.

2. Regulation of Circadian Rhythm: Acupuncture may influence the body's internal clock, known…

monica pineider massage therapist in london

Hi, Thanks for reading our blog! I'm Monica: founder of A to Zen therapies! I love being a massage therapist and   I strive to support you guys feeling looser, stronger & more positive day after day! I am here to share all my best tips to help you get even better results from your massages with maintenance, natural health and wellbeing advice. 

A to Zen therapies  treatments in London

At A to Zen therapies, we offer a wide variety of massage therapy techniques: .


Our clinic is close to Monument and London bridge. We are located within the Light Centre Monument, 

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